Neighbors in southwest Oak Cliff want houses, not apartments
There's a new apartment building being plotted for southwest Dallas that has the neighbors on alert.
The new build would be at West Kiest Boulevard and Guadalupe Avenue, east of South Cockrell Hill Road, on land that's currently zoned for single family homes.
The project is by Marcer Construction, an established Dallas real estate developer led by Raul Estrada, who lives in East Kessler Park in Oak Cliff. He says the plan is to build a 67-unit, senior living facility age-restricted for 55 and over.
This would be the first multi-unit building for Marcer, who has previously specialized in single-family homes.
“We looked at doing some single-family homes here, but it didn’t make sense," Estrada says. "It’s a large corner lot and it made more sense to do multifamily."
The new development comes as the city is in the midst of developing a controversy-generating "ForwardDallas" campaign, a citywide plan for how public and private land should be used. It includes increasing population density to allow four-plexes in traditional, single-family neighborhoods. The city is calling it “a once-in-a-decade opportunity to shape the future of Dallas.”
Retired city planner and current community activist Darryl Baker says this is not about density but is instead just the latest salvo in a long history of zoning struggles for South Dallas.
"We’ve been having a problem with developers and with city staff over zoning and land use issues for many years," Baker says. "It boils down to a dumping of uses that wouldn’t be tolerated in other parts of town."
Estrada filed the application for the zoning change in January. While initially recommending approval, city staff decided to hold the case until the City Planning Commission meeting on February 15 to allow for community meetings.
A meeting will take place on February 12 at 6 pm at Thurgood Marshall Recreational Center, 5150 Mark Trail Way.
Estrada hopes that once the community learns more about his development, including "really good amenities like you would see in Uptown Dallas," they will get behind it.
“We did what was required and nobody complained at the time. I don’t see this as a controversy,” he says.
Texas-based nonprofit Building Community Workshop released a study on the Dallas housing landscape in June 2023. Key findings included that Dallas has been losing affordable housing stock, specifically in South Dallas. And while apartments are certainly one way to deal with the crisis, neighbors would prefer a different solution this time around.
Raymond Crawford, who has lived in Oak Cliff’s Kiestwood neighborhood since childhood, says that he and other neighbors were not informed of the zoning application despite the fact that they're on a notification list for such. They were also not aware that it would be a senior living development, which will be located less than a half mile from Friendship Tower, another senior living facility at 3033 S. Cockrell Hill Rd.
Regardless of its disposition, there are still objections to the project because it’s changing the zoning from single to multifamily.
“I would like to see the City of Dallas incentivize and encourage private contractors to build single family, 100-percent brick, market-rate homes. It can be done,” Crawford says.
Baker also believes that increasing apartments is not the best thing for the community.
“What this case represents for us is one more thing that’s happening to us in South Dallas," he says. "If this is such a good deal, then build it in your neighborhood. We're full up."